When we arrived at our campsite at Pender Bay, Isaac jumped out straight away so that he wouldn’t have to help set up. Setting up took a lot longer than usual as we were using the tent and we had to get everything off the roof. While we were getting everything off the roof, Isaac came back with none other than our friends from Broome (their other sister was at the caravan).
Once everything was off the roof, and the tent was set up, Dad went to go help a lady who had been locked out of her car, leaving Matisse, Mum and I to set up the stretchers. After the stretchers had been set up, I started to wonder where Isaac and Tobias were because they had left to go with Ella, Will and their dad. Eventually they came back informing me that to get to Will’s campsite, you had to climb down the cliff, cross the beach and then climb up the cliff on the other side. When we had set up everything I went down the cliff to check out our friends’ campsite. It turned out that they had and amazing view and the sand on the beach was SUPER soft.
Later on, we all went down to the beach to enjoy the sand and sea and also to chat. Whilst we were down there, Isaac and Will were playing a game where they threw sand at each other and during which Isaac got sand in his eyes which finished that game.
The next day we headed over to our friends’ campsite where we played a game called Mexican Trains. Later on we on a super fun walk which involved climbing along rocks and walking along the sand. When we came to the final beach, all the kids except Matisse and Tobias. We all hid in the same little nook and when Matisse saw my legs I came out pretending not to know where the others were. Eventually we were all found and we went for a swim and I swam in my clothes.
That evening, we all went over to our friends’ site to watch a movie. We were joined by another girl who we met on the beach. We watched The LEGO Movie 2 while the adults ate biscuits and corn chips.
Sadly, that was our last night and so in the morning we all had to help pack up our tent. Once most of the work was done, we got to have one last play with our friends before leaving. All too soon the time came to leave and as I climbed into the car, I thought about how much I had enjoyed Pender Bay and everything in it: the soft sand, the beautiful sunset and the spectacular walks. All in all Pender Bay was probably one of my favourite places.
When we rocked up at Broome Caravan Park one of the first things the kids did was to go check out the pool. It was HUGE, although it was all the same depth(1.4 metres). Fairly soon we had set up camp and we decided to drive to the beach for the famous Cable Beach sunset.
Cable Beach has incredibly blue waters and white sand that feels amazingly soft between your toes. When we arrived, mum took Matisse and I for a walk down to the water. At first we were all a bit hesitant because there were a lot of jellyfish in the sand but in the end we went down. Once we were down there however, we heard Isaac playing with someone and when we turned around, we realised that a friend Isaac had made at Spring Creek rest stop was there as well.
Soon we were all playing together. I was talking to Will’s older sisters, Ella and Sophie about Harry Potter. After a while we started to make a mountain which we decided to turn into a turtle. Whilst we were making the turtle, some other people we met at Spring Creek arrived. When we spotted them we called to them and they joined us. With the extra help of Eva and Marian we managed to complete the turtle before complete dark.
Cable Beach is a beautiful place. As I watched the sun set the sky became a beautiful mixture of oranges, pinks and reds with the sun creating a simply stunning centrepiece. As I watched the sun slowly set I really begun to notice how big the sun was and appreciate its beauty.
Next day, Dad took Isaac and I to go hunting for dinosaur footprints. We weren’t sure if we saw any but we had lots of fun scrambling over rocks and going right to the waters edge. When we got back, we showed the kids our photos and then went to the pool. I spent my time there perfecting my front flips in the pool and seeing how many I could do until the kids asked me to play with them and I went to go hold the noodle for them to jump over.
Later that day we went down to the beach again except this time we drove down on to the sand and along the beach. When we found a spot, Isaac and I started building our sandcastle straight away. We decided to make a kingdom with a wall surrounding it. By the time our friends arrived, we had completed half the wall and after we explained what we were doing Ella and Will came to help us but Sophie decided to work on the Villains’ Mansion. After a while Isaac and Ella went to go and help Sophie leaving only Will and I to do the city. Whilst we were building we began to argue over whose creation had the best protection. Before we had finished however, the camels came by and Will’s mum wanted to get a photo in front of them. After that everyone wanted to get photos of the sunset and we forgot about our creations. When it was time to go we said goodbye and drove back to the foreshore to go and play at the playground.
The next day was Sunday which meant that we had to go to church. After mass, we went to the markets which was something we were all looking forward to. When we arrived however we were quite disappointed as they weren’t very interesting. We went back to the camp and spent the rest of the day playing and swimming in the pool. We also met a very nice man who was camping next to us.
When I woke up next morning I was very reluctant to get out of bed because that day was pack up day until I remembered we didn’t have as much to do because we were leaving the van there and going to Pender Bay on the Dampier Peninsula to stay in the tent because it was a 4WD track and we couldn’t being in our van. When we had packed up, we all piled into the car and set off for Pender Bay.
After departing The Bungle Bungle Ranges we decided we would do a long haul and head to Broome via a visit to Derby and a day trip to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. If we had embarked upon the Gibb River Road at El Questro, these remarkable landmarks would be our final stop before reaching civilisation once more. They form part of the 375 million year old, ancient, Devonian limestone reef that cuts through the Napier Range in the central Kimberley.
It is also the scene for the uprising of Jandamarra, a proud and strong indigenous, Bunuba man. Jandamarra was an Aboriginal warrior who became targeted by pastoralists as he endeavored to preserve his culture and his country. Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek became the backdrop of what was Jandamarra’s last stand and his eventual demise. These remarkable places are still of cultural significance to the Bunuba people today. Follow this link to read more of his story. (Jandamarra)
Tom and I visited both these places when we came to Broome last year and as one of the highlights of our trip, we were keen to show the kids. We had heard that due to the lack of monsoonal rain during the last wet season, Windjana Gorge was not as spectacular as in previous years. While this was probably true, the lack of water meant that the local population of freshwater crocodiles were confined to a very small surface area and were therefore very abundant.
Windjana Gorge, although dry, was still a beautiful place to visit. Carved by the Lennard River, Windjana Gorge is over three kilometres long with 30 to 100 metre-high walls that rise majestically into the landscape. It is hard to believe that millions of years ago these landforms were under water and that remnants of that age are fossilised today in the rocks. It is a unique place that is worth a visit.
We ventured further on up the road to Tunnel Creek. Now this was the part that Tom and I were particularly looking forward to. When Tom and I were here last we were ably lead by Elsa our tour guide through the meandering tunnel that has been worn out by water, but today it was just us and at this point there were no other people around. So we donned our head torches and headed into the darkness to embark upon the 750 metre underground trek, literally through the Napier Range. It really is a cool place and exploring Tunnel Creek would have to be some of the most fun that we’ve had together.
We clambour through the hole formed by the rocks at the entrance of the tunnel and are greeted with two beady little eyes. Lying on the banks lay a small, freshwater crocodile. Tom and I exchanged knowing glances that communicated ‘they weren’t here last time!’ While freshwater crocodiles are not known to be overly aggressive towards humans and are considered relatively harmless if left alone, I was a little apprehensive at the idea of wading through murky water in a dark tunnel filled with freshwater crocodiles. We allayed our fears and continued walking.
We continued walking into the tunnel. We passed another family heading out whose little boy informed us that they had counted 13 crocodiles. This was not making me feel overly confident!!
On we went!! That was until we came to our first of two water crossings. We all stopped, not sure how to proceed. We scanned the water and could identify at least two crocodiles. The water in front of us was really dark and murky!! I mean really, really dark and murky, with potential crocodiles and possible snakes and we had to wade about 20 meters in order to reach the other side. It seemed much easier and less daunting when Elsa was directing us!! Tom wasn’t any better suggesting that we turn around, trying to sell it to the kids that we had walked most of the tunnel anyway. The kids weren’t having a bar of it. ‘No! We want to go through!’ they all chimed in together. The kids were really not going to let us get away with turning back and each of them were determined to carry on. If there was ever a lesson to be had in building resilience and not giving up, this was it! “I’ve done this before, I can do it again,” I told myself. I walked into the water trying to find the shallowest path, making sure Tobias would be able to cross without getting drenched. The rest of the crew followed. We were all so elated at making it across. We gave each other a pat on the back and kept walking.
The roof has collapsed through to the top of the range near the centre of the tunnel. Not much further on from this we discover some more wildlife that inhabit the tunnel. Looking up we come across a large colony of bats just ‘hanging out’. At least five species of bats live in the cave, including ghost bats and fruit bats. We sat and watch them for a while until we continued on through another water crossing (we were experts by now), past some more crocodiles and exited into the heat of the day. We stayed a while until we turned around and made our return trip.
Our walk through Tunnel Creek was a true adventure, a test of perseverance and a lot of fun.
After our stay in Kununurra we made the short 3 hour drive out to Spring Creek Rest Area where we planned to free camp and then spend the next day exploring the ‘Bungle, Bungle Range’. The couple of nights we spent here, essentially on the side of the road, have been amongst the most memorable.
When we arrived we could see some kids peering out from behind a big bus looking at our ‘rig’ as we rolled in, pondering the same question that our tribe always do – ‘Are there any kids?’ And of course there were. It did not take long at all until all the kids were playing and having a ball together. Tobias quickly invited himself on the bus and was merrily playing with the abundance of toys that were before him. Tom and I also made our introductions and before long we were exchanging our life stories and hopes for the future. After about an hour or so another family arrived back from the Bungle Bungles who were travelling companions to the first family that we had met earlier. That evening was spent chatting, sharing a few beers and the kids eating zooper doopers and roasting marshmallows. Isaac also befriended another family and found a kindred spirit amongst them. It was one big party!! But not too late as we had an early start in the morning.
The next morning we were up with the birds and headed into the Bungle Bungle Range, in Purnululu National Park. The road in is only accessible to 4WD and it takes a good hour and a half to two hours (depending on how you drive) to reach the the visitor centre and then another half hour to begin one of the walks.
The Bungle Bungle Range is amongst one of the most unusual and curious landforms. While this range has been there for millions of years it only became known to the broader populous in the early 1980’s when a documentary film crew began to take footage of this mysterious landform and bought this wonderous maze of beehive shaped domes to the attention of the world. In 2003 it was listed as a World Heritage Site for its geological significance and its outstanding beauty.
As we approach the range we are surprised at how much you can see from the ground. Whenever I’ve seen docos and the like on the ‘Bungle, Bungle Range’ the images are always aerial views. Seeing them from the ground however is definitely worth it and still spectacular.
It is a really hot day the day that we go, reaching almost 40 degrees, even after we started out so early. It is hard going!! We don’t have ambitions to walk great distances so plan to walk to Piccaninny Lookout and Cathedral Gorge. First we head to Piccaninny Lookout. It is an easy walk, but we are all struggling in the heat. We make it however and are so glad that we persevered.
We then made our way to Cathedral Gorge. This gorge is aptly named with a large, naturally occuring amphitheatre at its heart. The acoustics are awesome, with the kids and I trying to test them out without drawing too much attention to ourselves.